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How To Fix a Broken Mac

# Filed on Sep 29, 2007 by AnthonyDiSante 4 replies

My Mac Mini system (1.5 GHz G4) suddenly refused to startup: it got stuck on the gray screen with the Apple logo in the middle and the spinning progress meter at the bottom.  I let it sit there for 30-60 minutes a few times, and overnight for about 8 hours another time, but it never got past that screen.  From other systems, I was unable to SSH into the Mini, so it was stuck somewhere before the network connection could be brought up.

I was able to boot into single-user mode by pressing Command-s (actually Win-s on my keyboard) at the startup sound, at which point I ran fsck, which claimed to fix a couple of minor-looking issues, but the system still would not start up fully.  Rebooting into single-user mode again and attempting to run "sh /etc/rc" as the screen suggested, I got the following errors:

[...]/IOKit ... Reason: image not found
couldn’t find root user ... sleeping and trying again

Those errors just repeated over and over on the screen.

I booted from my OS X installation DVD (by rebooting with the DVD in the drive and pressing c at the startup sound) and ran its "Repair Disk" and "Repair Permissions" tools, neither of which solved the problem.

I disconnected everything except for the keyboard, mouse, and monitor, but it didn’t help.

I booted into single-user mode and recreated the netinfo database, but that didn’t help.

I reset the PRAM by holding Command, Option, p, and r (really Win, Alt, p, and r) at startup, but that didn’t help.

I tried to boot into safe mode (by holding the shift key during boot) but the system still never got past the gray Apple-logo screen.

Finally I booted from the OS X installation DVD and did an "Archive and Install" which got the system working again.  This didn’t actually auto-import my users, settings, files, etc (the option was grayed-out), but it did preserve all the files from the previous installation (including all user files) in a new top-level directory called "Previous Systems."  So it was basically a new, clean installation, but I still had all my files.


01. Jul 28, 2008 at 11:20pm by Jon:

What is the OS X Installation DVD????

02. Jul 29, 2008 at 10:02pm by AnthonyDiSante:

It’s the DVD that comes with every Mac, which you can use to reinstall OS X if you need to.

03. Sep 12, 2009 at 03:03pm by tara:

thank you so much for this! although i do have one question.. when you said you did an "archive and install" how did you get to there? i put in the instillation dvd but nothing happened? thanks!

04. Sep 15, 2009 at 01:07am by AnthonyDiSante:

"Archive and install" was one of the options that the installer presented to me during the installation.  But if you put the DVD in and nothing happened, that would be the first problem to fix.  Maybe you need to go into the Finder and manually click the DVD to launch it?  In my case I launched the installation by actually booting from the DVD, as I mentioned in my original post above.

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